United Nations Environment Programme
environment for development Search 
News Centre
 Home News Centre
 Media Contacts
 Press Releases
 In Focus
 RSS / Podcasts

 Printable Version

Remarks by Angela Cropper, UNEP Deputy Executive Director at the International Day of Biodiversity 2010 Celebrations at the National Museum of Kenya

Nairobi, 24 May 2010 - President, Distinguished Delegates; Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good morning, it is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to this Third Meeting of the Working Group on Review of Implementation, to Nairobi and to UNEP.

You have an ambitious agenda before you. One which could define our development path and shape the course of the next decade or two.

I am pleased to address you at the Opening Session of your meeting. However, I am conscious of the fact that you are the experts in Biodiversity, and there is nothing I can offer you relating to either Science of Advocacy. But I do have some thoughts relating to Implementation, and since this is the remit of this Working Group, I will share them in the form of some questions to you, as you shape the course of the Convention for its next phase.

It is widely recognized that Implementation is too slow, that it lags way behind the speed of the driving forces for biodiversity loss, and at this rate, we will never bend the trends. Implementation is like a gentle, comfortable, smoldering fire, when what is needed is a conflagration of effort.

The challenge remains the same as it was in 1992 upon the signing of the Convention on Biological Diversity: "How to stem biodiversity loss to maintain its contributions to ecosystem structure and function and direct/indirect contributions to human well being".

We now have a much clearer understanding of biodiversity's contribution to Human Well Being through concepts of ecosystem services and elements of Human-Well -Being to which they contribute, directly and indirectly.

But meanwhile, direct drivers of change have got worse. Ecosystem goods and services have declined and become more uncertain. Human Well Being has become more insecure - witness bouts of food insecurity as well as incidences of ecologically related disasters in the recent past.


So, now to my questions to you:

As you are aware, the study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity will be concluded by the time of Nagoya. How can this study provide a new basis of understanding and valuing biodiversity that would ignite implementation at the start of a new period of targets?

Tools for assessing biodiversity are being developed to help businesses weave biodiversity strategies into their business plans, and private-sector engagement has been one notable accomplishment of the 2002-2010 Strategic Plan.

Would the result of this study motivate Business to become more involved to let markets play a role in goal-setting, creating incentives for protecting, rather than depleting, natural resources that have never before been economically valued?

Green Economy

The Green Economy report, coordinated by UNEP, will cover 11 sectors from agriculture and waste to cities and tourism. It will be published in late 2010.

Part of UNEP's response to environmental degradation and the loss of biological diversity, has been to better frame and publicize the economic case for natural resources through the Green Economy Initiative. The aim is to catalyze a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient, employment-generating economic path by providing the evidence that such a transition is the only sustainable option on a planet of six billion people, expected to rise to over nine billion by 2050.

How can this analytical framework assist Parties in identifying how the natural capital of their countries might be sustainably deployed towards and within a new development pathway?

Strengthening the policy-science interface (IPBES)

There is an urgency to bridge the data gaps and to build better and faster links between what science is discovering and political awareness, policy and action.

How can a strengthened policy-science interface, if made possible by decisions in an other context, support and accelerate implementation?

Synergies with other MEAs

The Nusa Dua Declaration, issued by the Ministerial Forum of the 11th Special Session of the Governing Council in February 2010, stated: "We recognize the importance of enhancing synergies among the biodiversity-related conventions, without prejudice to their specific objectives, and encourage the conferences of the Parties to the biodiversity-related MEAs to consider strengthening efforts in this regard, taking into account relevant experiences."

Would an accelerated process for such synergy in turn accelerate implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity? How can such synergy be achieved domestically, which is where it matters most?

Can some of the climate impacts on biodiversity be addressed under the framework of the Climate Change Convention? E.g. through REDD and REDD +, and through attention to Blue Carbon issues?

Access and benefit sharing of genetic resources

An international regime on access and benefit sharing of genetic resources (ABS) would be a positive step forward to refocus on opportunities and ways for local communities to be stewards and guardians of biodiversity.

How can access and benefit sharing of genetic resources, if the regime is agreed, be used to trigger implementation relating to scaled up technology cooperation and recognition of traditional knowledge?

Can Parties make better use of financial and human resources available? Does the global level institutional framework filter down in the way it was intended to country level action? Are the institutional arrangements the right ones? Is this something important to look at when considering new targets and their implementation and acceleration?

Targets for the Future

There are many reasons to be optimistic about the meeting in Nagoya.

As you develop targets this week, we know they need to be more measurable and achievable than those for 2010 by linking the vision, mission and targets with the available scientific evidence.

We must find a balance between ambition and realism, urgency and what can be done.

Too ambitious and we risk failing again. Lower the bar too low and we do not inspire or galvanize communities, governments and businesses to fast forward implementation.

Your judicious guidance is called for as Parties calibrate new targets with priorities and measurable indicators.

How can National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans become better and better applied instruments for implementation? Have "enabling activities" supported by the Convention's financial mechanism truly enabled implementation? What more needs to be or can be done in this regard? How do you advise with respect to more efficient and effective ways of capacity building that might have a direct and visible impact on implementation? Have the institutional arrangements developed over the past two decades helped Parties to unify sectoral approaches, or have they exacerbated lack of coordination and coherence? Are there new prototypes to be tried out, given performance to date?

The accumulated work under the Convention at the global level reflects impressive achievements to date:

  • We have had nine meetings of the Conference of the Parties, more than 200 policy oriented decisions adopted as guidance to Parties and others;

  • Fourteen SBSTTAs recommending scientific and technical work;

  • 7 Thematic work programmes on major biomes: forests, dry-lands, agricultural, inland waters, mountains, marine/coastal and islands;

  • 18 cross-cutting work programmes;

  • A suite of principles and guidelines giving practical assistance to Parties on cross-cutting issues relevant to all thematic areas;

  • An ecosystems approach strategy defined by 12 principles for integrated management of land, water and living resources.

  • 4 Working groups to assist with implementation on protected areas, traditional knowledge, implementation and ABS;

  • A biosafety protocol to ensure that living modified organisms proposed for release in another country do not adversely affect biodiversity or human health;

  • A 2002 Strategic Plan;

  • A dedicated financial mechanism;

  • And widespread cooperation and collaboration with other international instruments, organizations and processes.

Yet much remains to be done. As we know, there is much at stake, given the findings of reports such as:

  • The Millennium Ecosystems Assessment

  • GEO 4

  • GBO 3

  • Many other documents.

The targets set in the past are still to be realized. The latest Global Biodiversity Outlook repeats, refines, and extends what is needed to be done. Our aspirations are clear. An elaborate framework of policies and guidelines exist. The toolkit is bulging. What would unlock this global toolkit to make the tools more applied?

This meeting of your Working Group takes place at an important threshold. You are meeting in the context of this International Year for Biodiversity, on the eve of what could be a landmark meeting of the Conference of the Parties later this year what with strategic plan, new targets, a possible new Protocol on ABS to be examined; you are meeting at a time when the global community has just reviewed issues relating to Sustainable Consumption and Production, when it is preparing to assess in 2012 the progress towards Sustainable Development. These impose a heavy responsibility on you, heavier than normal, to assess progress in implementation of this Convention, and to advise its Parties and the rest of the world how we might rise to the enormous and increasing challenges.

Biodiversity is Life; Biodiversity is our life.




Further Resources

UNEP: International Year of Biodiversity

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

IUCN Red List website


Follow Us

Keep up to date with UNEP events on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

Twitter Facebook You Tube

UNEP on Facebook